Lennon’s killer denied in first bid for parole

By CAROLYN THOMPSON

Associated Press

ATTICA, N.Y. – State parole officials rejected a bid for freedom today for ex-Beatle John Lennon’s killer, saying Mark David Chapman hadn’t lost his need for publicity, a drive that fueled his “most vicious and violent act.”

It was Chapman’s first attempt for parole stemming from the December 1980 shooting death. Chapman won’t be eligible for parole for two more years.

Chapman was interviewed for 50 minutes this morning at a closed hearing at the maximum-security Attica state prison by three parole board members, said Tom Grant, a spokesman for the state Division of Parole.

About four hours later, Chapman was given the board’s one-page determination beginning: “Parole is denied.”

The board called Chapman’s killing of Lennon “calculated and unprovoked.” In addition to being one of the most famous musicians in the world, Lennon was also a “husband and a father of two young children,” the board said.

“Your most vicious and violent act was apparently fueled by your need to be acknowledged,” the board said. “During your parole hearing, this panel noted your continued interest in maintaining your notoriety.”

In a recent interview, Chapman said he believed that Lennon would have approved of his release.

But the board concluded that releasing Chapman at this time would “deprecate the seriousness of the crime and serve to undermine respect for the law.”

The parole board did note that Chapman has an “exemplary disciplinary record” while in prison. But it added that because he has served his time in special protective housing, “you have been unable to avail yourself of anti-violence and/or anti-aggression programming.”

Chapman, 45, is serving 20 years to life in Attica. He pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in June 1981 for fatally shooting Lennon as the rock star and his wife, Yoko Ono, were entering their Manhattan apartment following a recording session.

Immediately after today’s decision, Ono spokesman Eliot Mintz released to The Associated Press a letter Ono wrote to the parole board about Chapman’s hearing. In it, Ono refers to Chapman’s name only once, and on subsequent references simple calls him “the subject.”

Ono described the pain of losing Lennon and how Chapman’s release from prison would unravel her life.

“I am afraid it will bring back the nightmare, the chaos and confusion once again. Myself and John’s two sons, would not feel safe for the rest of our lives,” she wrote.

She also said releasing Chapman might spark violence against him by angry Lennon fans.

“They would feel that it is unfair that the ‘subject’ is rewarded with a normal life while John lost his,” she wrote. “Violence begets violence. If it is at all possible, I would like us to not create a situation which may bring further madness and tragedy to the world.

State Sen. Michael F. Nozzolio, chairman of the Senate Crime Victims, Crime and Correction Committee, had asked parole authorities to deny Chapman’s bid.

“John Lennon represented a vision of hope, peace and love,” Nozzolio, wrote to Parole Board Chairman Brion Travis.

“Tragically, his positive message and his life were fatally ended by Mark David Chapman,” Nozzolio wrote. “It is the responsibility of the New York State Parole Board to ensure that public safety is protected from the release of dangerous criminals like Mark David Chapman.”

Parole board hearings with inmates are closed to the public. The Associated Press filed a Freedom of Information Law request to get the board’s determination. A transcript of today’s interview with Chapman by the board will be available late in the week.

In Central Park, near where Lennon was slain, some fans who gathered today at the Strawberry Fields garden dedicated to Lennon said they did not want Chapman to be granted parole.

“I don’t think they should ever let the guy out,” said Rod Hanson. “It was a tragic loss to everybody, not just Beatles fans.”

Copyright ©2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Kim Skarda points at her home on a map on Thursday, June 20, 2024 in Concrete, Washington. A community called Sauk River Estates has a very steep slope above it. There is a DNR-approved timber sale that boarders the estate properties, yet they were not consulted about the sale before approval. The community has already appealed the sale and has hired their own geologist to conduct a slope stability report at the site. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Beneath steep slope, Concrete neighbors fear landslides from logging above

Nielsen Brothers plans to cut 54 acres of timber directly behind the community of 83 homes. Locals said they were never consulted.

Law enforcement respond to a person hit by a train near the Port of Everett Mount Baker Terminal on Thursday, June 27, 2024 in Mukilteo, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
2 killed in waterfront train crashes were near Mukilteo ‘quiet zone’

In June, two people were hit by trains on separate days near Mukilteo Boulevard. “These situations are incredibly tragic,” Everett’s mayor said.

Rob Plotnikoff takes a measurement as a part of the county's State of Our Waters survey at Tambark Creek in Bothell, Washington on Monday, July 1, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Snohomish County stream team bushwhacks a path to healthier waterways

This summer, the crew of three will survey 40 sites for the State of Our Waters program. It’s science in locals’ backyards.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Mountlake Terrace in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
4th suspect arrested after Mountlake Terrace home robbery

Police arrested Taievion Rogers, 19, on Tuesday. Prosecutors charged his three alleged accomplices in April.

A 10 acre parcel off of Highway 99, between 240th and 242nd Street Southwest that the city of Edmonds is currently in the process of acquiring on Monday, July 10, 2023 in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Edmonds ditches $37M Landmark public park project off Highway 99

The previous mayor envisioned parks and more in south Edmonds, in a historically neglected area. The new administration is battling budget woes.

Edmonds school official sworn in as Mount Vernon supe

Victor Vergara took his oath of office last week. He was assistant superintendent of equity and student success in Edmonds.

Former president Donald Trump is seen with a bloody ear as he is assisted off the stage during a campaign rally in Butler, Pa., on Saturday. MUST CREDIT: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post
Pops, screams and then blood: On the scene at the Trump rally shooting

Isaac Arnsdorf, Jabin Botsford | The Washington Post BUTLER, Pa. - The… Continue reading

Biden, Democrats, Republicans denounce shooting at Trump rally

Reaction pours in from government leaders

A bloodied Donald Trump is surrounded by Secret Service agents at a campaign rally in Butler, Pa, on Saturday, July, 13, 2024. The former president was rushed off stage at rally after sounds like shots; the former president was escorted into his motorcade at his rally in Butler, Pa., a rural town about an hour north of Pittsburgh. (Doug Mills/The New York Times)
Trump rally shooting investigated as assassination attempt

President Joe Biden gave a brief televised statement, condemning the violence as “sick.”

x
Man charged with hate crime in knife attack at Ezell’s in Edmonds

The suspect, 47, waved a knife at two workers while yelling about getting rid of “the Hispanics,” charging papers say.

Firefighters and EMTs with Sky Valley Fire tour Eagle Falls while on an observational trip on Wednesday, July 10, 2024, near Index, Washington. (Jordan Hansen / The Herald)
Beautiful but deadly: Drownings common at Eagle Falls, other local waters

Locals and firefighters are sounding the alarm as Eagle Falls and the Granite Falls Fish Ladder have claimed five lives this year.

A view of the south eastern area of the Lake Stevens that includes lakeshore and UGA that is a part of the city's annexation area on Thursday, Dec. 31, 2020 in Lake Stevens, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Lake Stevens fight to take over sewer district could end soon

The city and sewer district have been locked in a yearslong dispute. A judge could put an end to the stalemate this month.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.